After hearing many of my brewing and beer loving friends sing the praises of Orval I tracked a bottle of it down. I cracked it a few minutes ago and must say, I was not only underwhelmed but I was genuinely disappointed by it. I found it to be very dry (not a bad thing) and quite crisp (also not a bad thing) but it had a really funky aftertaste. I would call it acidic, appley and almost solvent-like. I tried it several times and came up with the same taste time after time. I cleansed my palette, gave it a rest and tried again a few minutes later. Same thing. If not for the aftertaste I feel like I would really enjoy it.
Was it just a funky bottle? Should I give it another try? Or is it really meant to taste this way? From how much other folks were talking it up I feel like I'm a bad beer lover for not liking it.
It is meant to taste that way
That being said, the amount of funk, acidity, bitterness, and even malt color vary from year to year and depending on how long it has been aged. The "barnyard" funk of brettanomyces is the common thread in every bottle, though. It can be an acquired taste; you may want to try other beers that have brett in them to compare.